Photographed and Written by Fatima Hasan
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For over ten years, Double JJ Ranch & Resort in Rothbury, Michigan has hosted one of the most unique and iconic music festivals in the United States. First established in 2008 as Rothbury Music Festival, the multi-day, multi-genre event evolved into Electric Forest in 2011. Celebrating its 9th installment this year, Double JJ Ranch welcomed over 45,000 attendees from all over the world into a different realm surrounded by nature, peace, and happiness.
Since my first time attending Electric Forest 5 years ago, I have never paid much attention to the music lineup. This is particularly because I am totally confident that festival organizers will put together something amazing for attendees. Each year, top-tier talent with backgrounds that range from electronic music, jam, funk, soul, rock, bluegrass, and more are invited to perform at this world renowned event.
In addition to the music, organizers create a variety of experiences and adventures for attendees to enjoy throughout the weekend. There are groups of friends everywhere, chatting, laughing, and having a great time. Countless art installations are nestled within Sherwood, along with random activities and side stages for everyone to enjoy. One of the best things is walking around the forest late at night and unexpectedly finding art, the giving tree, a new friend, or a quirky performance. Put simply, Electric Forest is an adult playground that truly has the power to spark emotion and manifestation.
This year changed compared to the last couple since it returned to one weekend instead of two back-to-back weekends. To be honest, I think there are benefits and downfalls to having the festival either one or two weekends, so the switch really doesn’t impact me much. It definitely is way easier to coordinate with friends at a one-weekend festival, but it sure felt more crowded compared to previous years.
Some highlights this year include the EVOL Chicago, Panky Rang, and Jaenga Bus RV afters. With talent like Caspa, Ganja White Night, Minnesota, and Buku at EVOL Chicago’s after party, they definitely made their mark on Electric Forest this year and brought immense respect to our hometown, Chicago. Birthdayy Partyy, who we interviewed at Spring Awakening this year, also performed at the RVs. Additionally, Tripolee was redesigned for the first time in quite a few years, which was a refreshing stage and production update.
On Friday, I decided to split my time between STS9 and Black Tiger Sex Machine, and I’m glad I did, because both groups threw down stellar performances. I always have a better experience at large festival stages when I can settle in and find an intimate vibe. For this reason, I decided to skip out on the massive Bassnectar crowd and instead saw Escapade (Walker & Royce with Ardalan) on Saturday. I definitely needed some of their groovy beats, and their set was a nice change of pace to my weekend. I also had another chance to see Honeycomb this year and he is, hands down, one of the most talented musicians I’ve discovered. I made an effort to catch 2 of his sets over the weekend, which were at the Grand Artique and Honeycomb stages. I really liked the newest and coolest update of 2019, the Honeycomb, which replaced the Forest stage.
Zeds Dead also had a remarkable performance at Ranch Arena on Sunday, they threw down for fans who have been highly anticipating their return since 2014. We were able to find a nice spot to lay out on the left side of Ranch at their set, and the spaciousness is one of the main reasons why I love that stage. The Floozies were the perfect way to close out Sherwood Court earlier Sunday night, and Random Rab did not disappoint as he performed at Jubilee afterwards.
Some other memorable performances were from EOTO, Gramatik, The String Cheese Incident, Caspa, OPIUO, Jaenga, Jantsen, Gorgon City, Charlesthefirst b2b Thriftworks, and more.
In addition to welcoming all kinds of people, Electric Forest is a place that encourages free expression, peace, environmental consciousness, and art. After attending this festival for 5 years, I know I will continue to support its mission. Every time I leave the Ranch, I feel an overwhelming sense of clarity and refreshment that is unique to Electric Forest. We thank the EF Team for having us out this year, we had a wonderful time and can’t wait to be back for its 10th installment in 2020!
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